American Gaming Association wants sports betting discussion

DFS Congressional hearing Wednesday

Like others interested in the future of sports betting, the American Gaming Association is looking forward to a congressional hearing Wednesday. But unlike others, the AGA is suggesting legislators first look backward.

AGA President Geoff Freeman specifically is suggesting a repeal of the federal prohibition on sports betting, known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

“PASPA intended to prohibit full-fledged sports betting. However it’s a thriving $150 billion illegal market,” he said.

Freeman spoke to the media Tuesday in advance of Wednesday morning’s House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade hearing titled “Daily Fantasy Sports: Issues and Perspectives.” The informational hearing was called in response to legal questions about DFS, but Freeman and others expect a broader discussion of all sports betting.

“As far as DFS our position is quite simple: they operate in a legal gray zone and we need it to be either black or white. We want to see clear rules of the road.

“And we want the opportunity to enter into this market.”

Freeman said the DFS explosion has pushed questions that have long needed to be asked.

“I’ve never seen the interest greater on Capitol Hill.”

Freeman noted that more states now have casinos than when PASPA was enacted and overall interest in sports betting has boomed.

“Americans love to bet on sports and demand is growing,” he said, noting that leadership of all four major sports leagues have evolved in the relationship between gambling and the games.

“Daily fantasy sports has been a gift and the benefits to the leagues in terms of sports viewership …any way you slice it, this has been a real wakeup call for all aspects of the sports industry in terms of getting greater fan involvement,” he said. “We don’t see it as a great threat. We see it as a great opportunity and could have a long-term relationship.”

The AGA estimates that Americans wagered $149 billion on sports in 2015, with only $4.2 billion bet at Nevada’s regulated sportsbooks.

“As members of Congress consider this, it’s clear that the current model for sports betting is unsustainable,” Freeman said.

Gambling laws vary at the state level, Freeman noted, such as Nevada considering DFS gambling and Indiana regarding it as a game of skill, with minimal regulatory oversight.

“Whether or not it’s gambling is irrelevant,” Freeman said. “What I know is we need clarity, to eliminate the gray area.”

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., requested the hearing in September, after it was discovered a DraftKings employee won $350,000 on FanDuel, after using data gleaned from his job that facilitated his selection of at least one player that had been only rarely selected for everyone else’s roster. Pallone also has introduced a bill to amend PASPA.

Twitter: @NickSortal